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South Africa

Background
Dutch traders landed at the southern tip of modern day South Africa in 1652 and established a stopover point on the spice route between the Netherlands and the Far East, founding the city of Cape Town. After the British seized the Cape of Good Hope area in 1806, many of the Dutch settlers (the Boers) trekked north to found their own republics. The discovery of diamonds (1867) and gold (1886) spurred wealth and immigration and intensified the subjugation of the native inhabitants. The Boers resisted British encroachments but were defeated in the Boer War (1899-1902); however, the British and the Afrikaners, as the Boers became known, ruled together beginning in 1910 under the Union of South Africa, which became a republic in 1961 after a whites-only referendum. In 1948, the National Party was voted into power and instituted a policy of apartheid - the separate development of the races - which favored the white minority at the expense of the black majority. The African National Congress (ANC) led the opposition to apartheid and many top ANC leaders, such as Nelson MANDELA, spent decades in South Africa's prisons. Internal protests and insurgency, as well as boycotts by some Western nations and institutions, led to the regime's eventual willingness to negotiate a peaceful transition to majority rule. The first multi-racial elections in 1994 brought an end to apartheid and ushered in majority rule under an ANC-led government. South Africa since then has struggled to address apartheid-era imbalances in decent housing, education, and health care. ANC infighting, which has grown in recent years, came to a head in September 2008 when President Thabo MBEKI resigned, and Kgalema MOTLANTHE, the party's General-Secretary, succeeded him as interim president. Jacob ZUMA became president after the ANC won general elections in April 2009. In January 2011, South Africa assumed a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2011-12 term.


Geography
Location:
Southern Africa, at the southern tip of the continent of Africa

Area:
total: 1,219,090 sq km
country comparison to the world: 25
land: 1,214,470 sq km
water: 4,620 sq km
note:includes Prince Edward Islands (Marion Island and Prince Edward Island)


Climate
mostly semiarid; subtropical along east coast; sunny days, cool nights

Natural Resources:
gold, chromium, antimony, coal, iron ore, manganese, nickel, phosphates, tin, rare earth elements, uranium, gem diamonds, platinum, copper, vanadium, salt, natural gas


People
Population: 48,810,427 (July 2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 26


Ethnic groups
black African 79%, white 9.6%, colored 8.9%, Indian/Asian 2.5% (2001 census)


Religions
Protestant 36.6% (Zionist Christian 11.1%, Pentecostal/Charismatic 8.2%, Methodist 6.8%, Dutch Reformed 6.7%, Anglican 3.8%), Catholic 7.1%, Muslim 1.5%, other Christian 36%, other 2.3%, unspecified 1.4%, none 15.1% (2001 census).


Languages
IsiZulu (official) 23.82%, IsiXhosa (official) 17.64%, Afrikaans (official) 13.35%, Sepedi (offcial) 9.39%, English (official) 8.2%, Setswana (official) 8.2%, Sesotho (official) 7.93%, Xitsonga (official) 4.44%, siSwati (official) 2.66%, Tshivenda (official) 2.28%, isiNdebele (official) 1.59%, other 0.5% (2001 census).


Literacy
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 86.4%
male: 87%
female: 85.7% (2003 est.)



Government
Government type: republic

Capital:
name: Pretoria (administrative capital)
geographic coordinates: 25 42 S, 28 13 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
note:Cape Town (legislative capital); Bloemfontein (judicial capital)

Independence:
31 May 1910 (Union of South Africa formed from four British colonies: Cape Colony, Natal, Transvaal, and Orange Free State); 31 May 1961 (republic declared); 27 April 1994 (majority rule)

Legal system:
mixed legal system of Roman-Dutch civil law, English common law, and customary law

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Jacob ZUMA (since 9 May 2009); Deputy President Kgalema MOTLANTHE (since 11 May 2009); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government

head of government: President Jacob ZUMA (since 9 May 2009); Deputy President Kgalema MOTLANTHE (since 11 May 2009)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president
(For more information visit the World Leaders website)
elections: president elected by the National Assembly for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 6 May 2009 (next to be held in 2014)
election results: Jacob ZUMA elected president; National Assembly vote - Jacob ZUMA 277, Mvume DANDALA 47, other 76

Legislative branch:
bicameral Parliament consisting of the National Council of Provinces (90 seats; 10 members elected by each of the nine provincial legislatures for five-year terms; has special powers to protect regional interests, including the safeguarding of cultural and linguistic traditions among ethnic minorities) and the National Assembly (400 seats; members elected by popular vote under a system of proportional representation to serve five-year terms)
elections: National Assembly and National Council of Provinces - last held on 22 April 2009 (next to be held in April 2014)
election results: National Council of Provinces - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; National Assembly - percent of vote by party - ANC 65.9%, DA 16.7%, COPE 7.4%, IFP 4.6%, other 5.4%; seats by party - ANC 264, DA 67, COPE 30, IFP 18, other 21

Judicial branch:
Constitutional Court; Supreme Court of Appeals; High Courts; Magistrate Courts
 

Economy Overview
South Africa is a middle-income, emerging market with an abundant supply of natural resources; well-developed financial, legal, communications, energy, and transport sectors; a stock exchange that is the 18th largest in the world; and modern infrastructure supporting a relatively efficient distribution of goods to major urban centers throughout the region. Growth was robust from 2004 to 2007 as South Africa reaped the benefits of macroeconomic stability and a global commodities boom, but began to slow in the second half of 2007 due to an electricity crisis and the subsequent global financial crisis' impact on commodity prices and demand. GDP fell nearly 2% in 2009, but recovered in 2010-11. Unemployment remains high and outdated infrastructure has constrained growth. State power supplier Eskom encountered problems with aging plants and meeting electricity demand, necessitating "load-shedding" cuts in 2007 and 2008 to residents and businesses in the major cities. Daunting economic problems remain from the apartheid era - especially poverty, lack of economic empowerment among the disadvantaged groups, and a shortage of public transportation. South Africa's economic policy is fiscally conservative, focusing on controlling inflation and attaining a budget surplus. The current government largely follows the these prudent policies, but must contend with the impact of the global crisis and is facing growing pressure from special interest groups to use state-owned enterprises to deliver basic services to low-income areas and to increase job growth.


Key Economic Indicators
GDP – real growth rate:
3.4% (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 116
2.8% (2010 est.)
-1.7% (2009 est.)

GDP – per capita (PPP):
$11,000 (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 104
$10,700 (2010 est.)
$10,500 (2009 est.)
note:data are in 2011 US dollars

GDP – composition by sector

agriculture:2.5%
industry:
31.6%
services: 65.9% (2011 est.)

Labor force:
17.67 million economically active (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 35
Budget:
revenues: $104.7 billion
expenditures: $126.5 billion (2011 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
5% (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 118
4.1% (2010 est.)

Agriculture – products:
corn, wheat, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables; beef, poultry, mutton, wool, dairy products

Industries:
mining (world's largest producer of platinum, gold, chromium), automobile assembly, metalworking, machinery, textiles, iron and steel, chemicals, fertilizer, foodstuffs, commercial ship repair

Exports:
$94.21 billion (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 42
$85.7 billion (2010 est.)

Exports – commodities:
gold, diamonds, platinum, other metals and minerals, machinery and equipment

Exports – Partners:
China 13.7%, US 10.1%, Japan 8.7%, Germany 7.3%, UK 7.1%, India 4.3% (2010)

Imports:
$92.86 billion (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 36
$81.86 billion (2010 est.)

Imports – commodities:
machinery and equipment, chemicals, petroleum products, scientific instruments, foodstuffs

Imports – Partners:
China 13.4%, Germany 11.2%, US 7%, Saudi Arabia 5.3%, Japan 4.7%, Iran 4.3%, UK 4.3% (2010)

Exchange rates:
rand (ZAR) per US dollar -
7.164 (2011 est.)
7.32 (2010 est.)
8.42 (2009)
7.9576 (2008)
7.05 (2007)

Communications

Telephones – main lines in use
4.225 million (2010)
country comparison to the world: 38
Telephones – mobile cellular:
50.372 million (2010)
country comparison to the world: 27
Telephone system:
general assessment: the system is the best developed and most modern in Africa
domestic: combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity roughly 110 telephones per 100 persons; consists of carrier-equipped open-wire lines, coaxial cables, microwave radio relay links, fiber-optic cable, radiotelephone communication stations, and wireless local loops; key centers are Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, and Pretoria
international: country code - 27; the SAT-3/WASC and SAFE fiber optic cable systems connect South Africa to Europe and Asia; satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean and 2 Atlantic Ocean

Internet country code: .za

Internet hosts: 3.751 million (2010)
country comparison to the world: 24

Internet Users: 4.42 million (2009)
country comparison to the world: 54



Source: CIA World Factbook